Friday, November 29, 2013

A Black Friday Bike Ride

I like this picture of the back seat of our truck.  It describes the last couple of months of our lives.  Top left is my surgical boot, then we have the Pilates mats, and at the bottom are the bike shoes which I can finally wear.

We got a Christmas cactus from Lowe's.  It's happy, and it's entertaining us as it blooms.

Today we rode 34 miles with Don and Jamie.  We stopped at Starbucks for coffee and a nosh at mile 26.  At that point I was fairly cooked.  This is the court yard where there are restaurants and shops.  It's pretty.

After we finally returned home, I was really cooked.  Tomorrow will be a non-riding day.  We bought lights to put on our palm tree so we're going to do that, and laundry.  There is always laundry.  How do two people mess up that many clothes?

The sunset tonight was impressive. It went from some anemic pink streaks to this in a matter of seconds.

That was today; ride and go to the grocery store because we still do not have a functioning refrigerator.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thanksgiving Bike Ride

Today was the day.  I put the road shoes on, and we went for a ride on the trail.  It was only 21 miles, but it was good.  We saw a big hawk hanging out by the trail.  Of course, as soon as the camera came out, he took off.  He was a big bird.

We parked at the Christopher Columbus park, so I could get directly on the trail.  I wasn't sure how it would go, and decided to skip the road portion down Mission.  Since I start on my left foot, there were a couple of sharp (paved) climbs out of washes that I walked, but overall it was good. We took a bike path we don't normally ride, that goes way north.  Tucson has added on to it, we ended up very far north, up by Gladden Farms.

It was just a glorious day.

Happy Thanksgiving, maties!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Looking for Content in Tucson

The problem with parking oneself in Tucson for several months is that I've pretty much said everything there is to say about the area.  It makes posting difficult.
Our refrigerator remains dead.  It started venting something to the atmosphere so Ken turned it off.  We're currently living with the teeny tiny frig and an ice chest for ice.  We're shopping a lot, we're feeling very French as we make our daily market stops.  The tiny refrigerator is interesting, we set the temperature to max cold because the ice cream was at the soup stage.  It promptly froze half the food in the main part of the refrigerator, but not the ice cream.  It's curious as to how that works.
We're giving Pilates a try.  There is a studio next to where I go to PT.  The goal is to leave with a 30 minute routine that we can do safely which will increase our core strength and flexibility.
We're in day two of howling winds.  Jim was out at 2:00 am looking for the grill cover that we use for the mountain bikes.  That is the first time it has ever blown away - it's heavy.  This morning he found it up against the park fence, some distance away from the RV.  It would be nice if this would stop, you haven't lived until you've ridden an upright bike into 25 mph gusts.
Here is my puny photographic offering for the post, taken a couple of days ago after our huge rain storm cleared out


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rain on El Tour and the Streets of the Old Pueblo

Today is the Tour de Tucson.  This morning we went out to look for water in the washes and wet riders.  This is the Santa Cruz River - it's usually dry, but today it's running.

The tour route this year goes down the frontage road, which is way better than Silverbell.  In many places they had brand new pavement.  These are the faces of misery.

Check the poncho billowing in the wind.  Almost no one had fenders, and we didn't see any mud flaps.  The spray from the wet roads has to have been atrocious.

Crossing Sabino Creek.  Why this is even part of the route is beyond me.

Tucson road riders, do you recognize this? This is the road you take when you come up the Rillito River Trail, and turn left onto the road so you can get to the trail on the other side of the river.  The road is closed at the moment as the Rillito River crosses it.

Water coming from the east.

This is the best thing we saw today.  We were driving south on Tucson Boulevard, which is one of the streets that doesn't have storm sewers.  This is only 27 seconds long and it's amusing.  There is music, so if you're at work, mute.

If you don't have video bandwidth, here's us being sprayed by a fire truck in transit.

Late this afternoon, it looks like the system may be moving out, which would be good.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rain in the Old Pueblo

It's raining.  Actually as I type this, it's pouring.  It's not supposed to do this in November, especially on the weekend that is the Tour de Tucson.  It's just going to suck for the riders, all that oil on the roads will be lifting with the rain and it's going to be dangerous.

Currently there's about 6 inches of standing water at our end of the park. We're the low end.

The gray tank is full, so Jim has had to go out in the rain to dump it.
My job today will be to call Century Link to inform them that they have sent two wireless modems, when only one was requested.  I will bet you dollars to donuts that if I send the extra one back, they'll cut off my service.
Jim got his pc back from the virus slayer, it's running much better than it was.  His job will be to re-establish access to online banking. Our credit union can be difficult to deal with.  They say they're just being diligent, sometimes I think they're just being a pain in the butt.
In other news, I can wear shoes now, but I'm still walking like I have peg leg.  I land on my heel but do not roll forward to the ball of my foot.  It's aggravating my heel and my left hip.  There is a knot in my left arch which is painful as well.   The key learning here is that we don't heal as well in our 60's as we did in our 50's. 
This is all I have to report, maties.  Things are a little slow in the Old Pueblo.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

First World Problems Being Resolved, Slowly

There was goodness today, after a poor start to the day.  I had lunch at La Botana Fresco Grill and Cantina with my friend Marcy. We sat outside and had fish tacos that were really good.  I'm looking forward to going back there.  Since Rubios took carnitas off the menu, there's really no reason to eat there anymore, so this is an excellent discovery.

This is Marcy's billboard.  She's my age, and this summer had both hips replaced.  She has recovered so well that TMC is featuring her in their new ad campaign.  That's her horse Mex, who she can now ride.  She can also swim, lift weights and bicycle.  Pretty cool, eh?

We've decided to turn off the refrigerator.  Having the RV burn to the ground would be beyond inconvenient.  So, we now have 4.4 cubic feet of tiny refrigerator with an even smaller freezer compartment.  Tomorrow we're filling the chest with ice in an attempt to save the french fries and the ice cream.

Just after I left for lunch, a Century Link tech came by and activated our DSL service.  Then the modem showed up via UPS around 4:00. I think someone else's modem was diverted to us because the phone number on the activation letter did not match the phone number they gave me this morning.  So now we have 40 meg/sec of blazing internet access.  Tomorrow I will cut back our Verzizon data plan and suspend the Jetpack.  The 78 minutes of my life that I squandered on the phone this morning yielded good results.  This year I was able to hook up the modem and initiate service without having to call help desk.
So there you have it -- part two of the day.

First World Problems

This has been a veerrryyyy long and aggravating week.  Oh wait! It's only Tuesday.  Imagine the possibilities for the next 5 days!
We left the house yesterday to take Jim's PC to the virus slayer.  Due to an error in judgement on my part, Jim's PC has been compromised.  A full wipe of hard drive may be necessary.  No, I'm not divulging my error in judgement, it's too embarrassing.
Then we went to physical therapy for the foot. We saw this on the way.  See the dinosaur trying to bite the land shark?  If you look carefully you can see the fin the dinosaur is going for.

After spending some time trying to loosen up my scars so that my toes can move, there was electricity.  All physical therapists seem to enjoy putting electrodes on their patients.  It's a creepy feeling.  I keep waiting to be electrocuted.
After PT, we went grocery shopping.  It was a big shopping with lots of meat and vegetables and frozen stuff.  Upon entering our RV we discovered that the refrigerator was dead.  No lights, no nothing.  Our rudimentary problem solving skills were of no use so we called Ken.  He came out and told us the cooling unit is dying.  It's not unheard of for these to fail, especially in a Norcold.  Here's the bad news.  He reset the cooling unit so it would come back on, but now it's a fire hazard.  Ken told us why, but I couldn't follow the discussion, it has something to do with bad metallurgy. He made a heat shield out of aluminum foil and told us to keep the water pressure up in the hose with the spray nozzle. The new cooling unit will be here in a week and a half, until that time we're at increased risk for burning the RV to the ground.  I think we may go buy a couple of dorm sized refrigerators and turn the current one off.
THEN, this morning, I got on the phone with Century Link to inquire as to why the internet modem that was supposed to arrive yesterday was not here.  They had no record of our order. None!  After hollering for a bit, I was put through to a supervisor, who discovered that the system had cancelled the order 4 days ago with no explanation.  Perfect. One hour and 18 minutes later, they set up a new account, waived all of the activation and shipping fees, and expedited the new order so that hopefully we'll have DSL by this Friday.
Oh, and this morning I locked myself out of my credit union account because I can't correctly type my new, more secure password.  Ack.
So that's what we've been doing here.  I'm really hoping the rest of the week will be tranquil.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hiking and a New Bike

Yesterday we saw the movie Ender's Game.  It was really good. If you haven't seen it, you should go.  The characters are good and the special effects support the plot, instead of being the plot. When we came out the sun was setting, it was a beautiful evening.

This morning Jim went for a hike (without me).  It was a good workout for him, the trail goes UP, the trail goes DOWN, then back up and down.  I'm looking forward to the day when I can go suffer with him.

So while Jim was gone, I couldn't go anywhere. The park is large, and stuff is too far away to walk.  My two bikes aren't good for me at the moment, the road bike has clipless pedals and the mountain bike pedals have spikes in them.  We went to Target and looked at cheap bikes.  They're crappy bikes, with crappy components so I ended up getting a bike with no gears and coaster brakes.  It's hard using the coaster brakes. I have 40 years of muscle memory using hand brakes, I keep reaching for them and they aren't there.  My current technique is to slow down a bunch and then sort of jump off.  Here I am on my maiden voyage.

It's a cute bike.  I'm going to give it a couple of days and see if I can get used to the coaster brakes. This is a more or less disposable item so spending mass dollars on it makes no sense.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Unresolved Front End Badness AND a Tire Cover Installation Tip

You no doubt remember all of the bitching and moaning I did about the roads in California.  Well, after the transit our previously perfectly aligned RV returned to Tucson with vibration in the steering column and more noise on bumpy roads.  Yesterday we took it into Arizona Spring to check out the front end.  We like them.  When we had the 5th wheel that ate tires they fixed our bent and non parallel axles.  Anyhoo, AZ Spring could find no damage, said we appeared to be in alignment, and suggested we have the wheels balanced.
We went here, to GCR Tire Center.  They're doing excellent brand management.  We pulled up and someone was out the door greeting us.  So they balanced and added a 10 ounce weight to the right front tire.  That helped, but we still have vibration in the steering column on bumpy roads (which would be just about every road in the US).  I guess our next step will be to replace the shocks.  It can't hurt, it might help.

Now I have a life improvement tip for you.  When we were in Missoula, we were next to a delightful ex-Forest Service pilot, who showed us what he had built.  When one owns a Class A, getting the wheel covers on the back tires can be a pain in the patootie because you must wiggle a cord between the two back tires and then through another grommet and then pull it back all the way around.  If this makes no sense to you, never mind because we will never do this again.
Here is the improvement.  It's a dowel, with duct tape wrapped around one end, and a removable clip on the other end.

Remove the clip, run the dowel through the back grommet.  Thread the dowel between the two back tires, toward the front of the bus.  The duct tape on the end stops the dowel from going all the way through the grommet.

Then run the dowel through the other tire cover grommet and place the clip on the stick.  This is so simple I can't believe it.  So now our tire covers are secured to the bus, and life is better. 

The foot continues to improve at a glacial rate.  I drove a bunch yesterday, following the bus around Tucson and by the end of the day it was pretty swollen from being down so much.  I was forced to lie on the couch and have Jim bring me things for a few hours.
The weather heads are predicting gusts between 40 and 50 mph today. I think that may curtail outside activity.  It's half past 10 and the breeze is filling in.  So that's what's happening in the Old Pueblo.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Truck Detailing and Local News

Jim arose with the dawn this morning to take the truck in to Watson Chevrolet for detailing.  They washed, clayed and waxed it.  The clay is amazing stuff, it picks up all of the little specks that washing doesn't get, leaving the paint surface as smooth as a baby's butt.
This is the rental we had today.  It's a low end Beetle, but it's fun to drive.  It's a zippy little car.  Being that low to the ground after the pickup is somewhat unnerving.

When Jim left this morning, there was a huge police action at the Silverbell Inn.  After he returned from dropping off the truck, we left in the car and the road was totally closed.  We surmise that something really awful happened, as the road was closed for hours.  When we came home late this afternoon the police were gone, but Bud Foster was out filming a news segment.  We're now suffering through the KOLD talking news heads to see if they'll tell us what the heck happened there.
News flash:  Jim discovered via the internet that the whole thing was due to a suspicious package left in front of the hotel. 

Were you aware that the Rincon Market suffered a devastating fire in early July of this year?  We were not.  Today we learned that repairs and renovations have not yet started.  Apparently there have been issues with obtaining approvals from the owner of the building.  On a happy note, the business insurance policy is paying the salaries of the 60 people who lost their jobs due to the fire.  The business owner does not expect to re-open until mid-2014.  This is such a bummer, I love their salad bar.  Many a Sunday breakfast ride has had the Rincon Market as its destination.

I put a shoe on my left foot this morning.  It's a little tight, and my sock is leaving imprints in my fat little piggy toes, but I was able to lace it and briefly walk in it.  I'm going to call this progress.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Swimming and Bike Supports

Here is my new exercise regime.  I am doing a fearsome dog paddle.  Notice how the fingers of my right hand are together and curved, making the perfect paw.  It's an unbelievably inefficient way to propel oneself through the water.  I did 7 laps today, and walked back and forth in the 4 foot depth of the pool.

Perfect form, eh?

Last April, we ditched our huge bike rack and bought two of these.  The main advantage over the welded big one is that these fold up.  See the spring at the bottom?  That pushes against the back wheel of the bike when you roll them in.  This rack works beautifully on a concrete floor in a basement.

They don't work so well outside when it's windy, and the bikes are covered with a grill cover which is acting as a giant sail.  The first day we were back, everything went over.  So, we weighted the racks down with cinder blocks, and used bungie cords to push the bikes against the back of the rack.

Then we became concerned with what happens if they go over anyway?  The cinder blocks will not be good for the paint.  That train of thought resulted in buying pipe wrap and padding the edges of the blocks.  Note the mitred corners.

So now we look like this.  Hopefully it will be good enough, because I really don't want to buy and discard a rack every winter season.

Speaking of the foot, here it is this morning.  The scabs are off.  It's better, the frequency of the electrocuting pains is down.  There's still a fair amount of swelling in my toes, the ball of my foot, and the top of my foot.  I'm still not wearing shoes, it's too fat.  It's going to be a longer recovery time that I had hoped for.

Enough clouds have come in to give us a little bit of a sunset tonight.

This is all I have to report, maties.  Hope things are good where ever you are these days.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Back in Tucson

We're back.  Jim has the tire covers on the RV, the rope lights are deployed and the mountain bikes are out of the pickup truck.  It's not as warm as it has been in past years, but it's supposed to climb back in to the 80's soon.

I'm four weeks out from surgery.  The sharp stabbing pains appear to be winding down.  They're phantom limb pain, from the removal of two nerves.  I can't comprehend how bad it would be losing a limb. The stabbing pains have made me yell out loud (scaring Jim to death on the freeways).   I'm glad that part of the process is winding down.  My foot is fairly swollen and it's still painful.  I'm still not better off than before surgery, which is my standard for a successful procedure.
Once it warms up a little, we're going to go down to the pool and dog paddle vigorously to get some cardio.  I might do water aerobics with the ladies, Jim just gives me a bug look when I suggest that he join me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Yermo, CA to Quail Run RV Park, Quartzsite, AZ

Would someone PLEASE teach the California DOT that bridge decks should be at the same height as the roads on either side?  Please?   Today's route was I15 to I40 to CA95 to I10.  Most of I40 was awful, particularly the aforementioned bridge decks.  The noise level from the road surface was just debilitating.  The northern half of CA95 was fun, the road surface was good. The road follows the nap of the earth with dips and rollers.  However, all good things come to an end and by the end we were back on crappy asphalt.
A lovely view of the desert.

So we're staying in Quartzsite.  It's an amazing phenomenon.  For 10 months out of the year, it's a small wide spot in the freeway.  However, come January and February, close to one million people come here for the weather, the boondocking, the gem shoes and the flea markets.  Think about that, one million people.  I'd kind of like to see it, but not badly enough to brave the traffic.  Many of those people will boondock.  They drive into town to the RV Pitstop to dump and take on water and propane.

We're at the Quail Run RV Park.  It's not terrible.  Interior roads are paved, sites are gravel.  They have good gravel.  There is a concrete pad between sites.  Our site is very level, no HWH required.  Satellite and Verizon Jet Pack are working well.  Basically it's a giant field with roads and gravel.  Our site is long enough that the truck could stay connected to the bus.  The people who run the park are very pleasant, and they take you to your site.  It's not a pretty park,  but for an overnight it's fine.  I didn't get a picture, sorry.
Given how poor the road surfaces have been in California, I don't think we'll do this route again.  I think I'd rather return from Harrisburg via Utah, or the East Coast, than do this again.

Update to post, here is a terrible picture of the park.  Sorry about the reflections, too lazy to go outside!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sommerville, CA to KOA - Yermo, CA

Today's route was one of woe and aggravation.  I5 between Coalinga and the cutoff to CA58 is just beyond bad.  Every bridge deck is below the grade of the road. I think that stretch of highway alone is enough to make us swear off this routing.
After Barstow we headed out CA58 toward Tehachapi Mountains.  It goes from being really unattractive scrub desert to a better looking part of the state.

There is a significant grade up east bound.  Going down the other side it was a gradual descent.  It's really pretty out there.  Unfortunately this was also another section of terrible road surface; again enough to make us swear off this route back to Tucson.

Look at the lower right hand corner.  Look how serpentine the train is.

There was a lot of train traffic.  There were two trains waiting to go in the other direction.

Here we are, in Tehachapi.   There are a ton of wind turbines.

We're at the Barstow Calico KOA, which is actually in Yermo.  We'll have to backtrack to get on 40 to head to Needles in the morning.  It's not a terrible KOA.  The surface of the park is 5/8 inch rock.  Sites are level, no HWH required.  Satellite and the Verizon Jet Pack are working well.  The utilities are where they ought be.  We have a picnic table, as well.  Jim rates the laundry room as squeaky clean and very nice.  There are oleanders between some of the sites, but there's no real separation between RVs.  There is some freeway noise, but it's not obnoxious. It's a good park for an overnight on a transit. We were able to pull through and leave the truck hooked to the RV.

With the exception of the Tehachapi Mountains, this is an unlovely drive.  The first part of the day was through agricultural land, complete with blowing dust since it was windy.  After that it becomes unattractive desert. 
Tomorrow we're staying in Quartzsite, and after that we will be in Tucson.  Yay!